This year was a pretty great year for music. So many truly great albums came out, many which I wish could have made this list. Every genre had some truly awesome releases and a plethora of great new artists as well. Here then are the ten, ok 11, that I loved the most. They touched me, inspired me, made me cry, or smile the most out of any other this year. They’re the ones I sang in the shower, wiped away tears to, contemplated life with. If some are new to you, that’s great, I hope they mean as much to you as they do to me.
Now if I can just get my best movies list done…
Pep Talks – Judah and the Lion
Patty Griffin – Patty Griffin
A band I am brand-new to and a woman who is my favorite female singer of all time. Judah’s album hit me out of nowhere. I don’t even remember what drew me to it but it was love at first listen. Pep Talks is a deeply personal and emotional record. It’s both heartbreaking and inspiring.
Patty Griffin’s latest is a gem. It’s pure Patty with her writing talents on full display along with her gorgeous voice. It’s another great in a career full of them.
Cub Sport – Cub Sport
One of the absolute best voices in pop music today belongs to Cub Sport vocalist Tim Nelson, who also happens to be a damn good songwriter. This self-titled album, their third, is another deeply personal and reflective collection of songs inspired by Nelson’s experiences as an out gay man in love, nay married, to his band-mate. It’s a gorgeous, haunting, lovely album. One that just makes you eager for more from this vastly underrated band.
Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey
I was never into Lana Del Rey. She never clicked with me. I tried. and I tried. I honestly wasn’t going to even bother with this one but word was spreading that it was pretty great so I gave it a shot. Well, it got its hooks in me immediately and Lana didn’t leave my airpod for weeks. It’s a gorgeous ethereal dream of a record. One that completely changed my feelings on Lana Del Rey.
Clarity/Turn off the Light – Kim Petras
She’s a star. These two releases are equally brilliantly fun. Kim Petras is the queen of dance pop and horror pop(?!). Turn off the Light specifically sounds like the soundtrack for the greatest gay slasher movie ever. It’s a damn delight. Clarity feels lighter poppier, the other side of the coin to TOTL. They’re both so great and prime examples of Kim’s seemingly limitless talent.
On The Line – Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis always surprises with her albums. She always manages to deliver something sounding fresh and different but always so perfectly her. On The Line finds Lewis in an amalgam of folk and pop and country all squeezed together into a perfect blend. Her sweet voice is as always perfect to her lyrics. Dark while never feeling it, and light without feeling sugary.
Igor – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler follows up his brilliant Scum Fuck Flower Boy with another creative milestone. Igor is Tyler taking creative risks with tone and genre. It’s a fantastic album that fully displays Tyler’s incredible skills. His words are deep and important. His heart still open for us all to peak into. I don’t think any other hip/hop artist excites me more right now than Tyler, The Creator.
Cuz I Love You – Lizzo
An absolutely flawless album from one of the most dynamic talents going right now. Lizzo can make you cry and turn your day into a ass-kicking holiday from one track to the next. She’s all empowerment and has the chops to back it up. Track to track full of fantastic songs about love, confidence, and whatever else comes to her mind. Lizzo is the real deal and this album is stellar.
Fine Lines – Harry Styles
Part of me wanted to believe that Harry Styles’ debut album was a fluke. Like how has this talent been hiding in a boyband for so long? Not to be judging One Direction, I just mean that Harry Styles doesn’t belong in a group. He’s front and center. He’s a bonafide artist. That rare blend of pop star, rock star, and singer songwriter. Fine Lines is an album that defies genre. It feels at once like a late 70s early 80s classic and so perfectly current that it’s difficult to even categorize. Harry is making music for Harry and we’re lucky enough to be along for the ride. Adore You is a perfect bop and I can’t get it out of my head.
Lover – Taylor Swift
Okay okay, is it fair to put my favorite pop artist on the list? It’s my list so yeah and Lover absolutely deserves to be on it. This is Taylor Swift happy and ready to show she isn’t just in it for the drama. This time she’s in love and she wants you to know all about it. Delightfully dreamy pop with infectious melody and personal lyrics make this one of her best. At times, I might call this an overcorrection from the response to Reputation but that doesn’t take away from how much I love the album.
Portraits – Greyson Chance
There has not been another album this year that I have listened to more than Portraits. It is on constantly. I love every goddamn inch of this record. Every note. Every lyric. Greyson Chance crafted an intense look into his life, his love, his heart and damn if it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. Greyson doesn’t hold back. His experiences our ours. It’s such a relatable, important album. His raw honesty is absolutely refreshing and vitally necessary. Young gay kids need to hear a voice like Greyson’s. Finding yourself, losing love, finding it, these are all stories anyone can relate to, gay or straight, but hearing these for people afraid of themselves, unsure of who they are, afraid of what it might mean; these songs are just beautiful.
If this is what he is doing now, I can’t even imagine what is coming next. I love this album so much that I went to see him perform music from it twice this year.
Okay that’s it! That’s my favorites of 2019. Agree? Disagree? Yell at me all you want in the comments below. By the way, you can get all of these albums from Amazon and believe me, you want to.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.